Relive the Lost Legacy of Dogra Value – Jammu Kashmir Latest News | Tourism
Dr Sudershan Kumar
The former state of Jammu and Kashmir with four provinces viz. Jammu, Kashmir, Ladakh and Gilgit Baltistan, covering an area of approximately 2.8 million square kilometers, was founded by Maharaja Gulab Singh after signing a treaty with representatives of the British East India Company in Amritsar March 16, 1846 after the First Anglo-Sikh War. Prior to this, the Dogra warriors played a key role under Maharaja Ranjit Singh in merging small independent kingdoms with the vast Sikh Empire. Therefore, before highlighting the contribution of the Dogra warriors to the establishment of one of the largest princely states of Jammu and Kashmir under the suzerainty of the British Indian Empire, one should familiarize oneself with the history of these four provinces (now forked into two union territories Jammu – Kashmir, Ladakh. Some regions, namely Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and the Shaksgam Valley, Aksai Chin are illegally occupied by Pakistan and China respectively). These four provinces, which are culturally, climatic and religiously different, were subdivided into smaller kingdoms / principalities independently ruled at different times. From open literature it emerges that until the mid-millennium the Kashmir region was an important center of Hinduism, followed by Buddhism and later 9th century Shaivism.
Islamism in the Kashmir Valley began between the 13th and 15th centuries. In the last quarter of the 16th century, the Commander-in-Chief of Mughal Emperor Akbar, Qasim Khan, led the Mughal army, annexed the Kashmir Valley and established sovereignty. Successive Mughal emperors ruled Kashmir until 1752. After taking advantage of the decline of the Mughal Empire, the Afghan empire of Durrani under Ahmed Shah Durrani took control of the Kashmir valley in 1752 and ruled until ‘in 1819, followed by the Sikhs (1819-1846) and the Dogras (1846-1947). Of all these regimes, the Afghan regime was one of the most repressive. Likewise, when we examine the history of Gilgit-Baltistan, we see that in the first century the inhabitants of these regions were followers of the Bon religion and from the second century they followed Buddhism. Then the region was ruled by the Buddhist dynasty until the seventh century. Sufi Muslims from Persia and Central Asia introduced Islam to this region in the 14th century. Gilgit Baltistan was also ruled by many local rulers among whom the Maqpon dynasty of Skardu and Rajas of Hunza were famous. The last Maqpon Ahmed Shah ruled Baltistan between 1811 and 1846. Current Ladakh was also divided into two provinces while the third included western Tibet. The region of western Tibet escaped the kingdom but was reunited in the 16th century by the famous ruler of Ladakh Sengge Namgyal. Likewise, the region of Jammu was also an amalgamation of small principalities. Each was ruled by an independent king. But ironically, the Rajas of these principalities were at daggers drawn with each other, resulting in chaos, making peace elusive for centuries for the region. It was the power of Raja Gulab Singh, who, through his innovative strategy, fostered peace between them and united them under a single government. Thus, it was through the valor and efforts of the Dogra warriors that these independent kingdoms of four provinces under Maharaja Ranjit Singh were integrated into a single entity known as the former princely state of Jammu and Kashmir. Therefore, acquainting yourself with this Indo-Aryan Dogra ethnolinguistic group in India composed of speakers of the Dogri language becomes all the more imperative.
These Dogras have rightly earned their name as the bravest warrior clan in military history. Over the past few centuries, the Dogras have produced a large number of warriors. Among them were Mian Nath, Rup Chand, Man Singh, Raja Basudev, Jagat Singh Pathania, Chander Bhan, Raj Singh Chambial, Raja Dhiyan Singh, Raja Suchet Singh, Ram Singh Pathania, Bag Singh Jarnail, Mahajraja Gulab Singh, Gen Zorawar and many more. The value of the Dogra warriors was recognized by Mughal emperors, the British and Sikh rulers. Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan was so impressed with the worth of Man Chand Guler that he bestowed on him the title of Sher Afghan and his surname suffix was changed from Chand to Singh. In addition to the British East Indies, the irregular unit of Dogra, known as Agra Levy, was also lifted in 1858. Sir Fredrick Robert, then Commander-in-Chief of India, was so impressed with the qualities and the valor of the Dogra soldiers that he added the Dogra regiment to the Bengal army. .
This regiment, along with other units, participated in overseas operations and won numerous combat honors. Maharaja Ranjit Singh was a great admirer of the bravery and loyalty of the Dogra warriors. He not only fed them in his yard, but also skillfully used the Dogra warriors to fulfill his vision of extending the borders of his empire into Central Asia.
In fact, during his time, Raja Gulab Singh worked out a plan with his favorite lieutenant, General Zorawar Singh, to conquer Ladakh, Gilgit Baltistan and part of Tibet. As per plan, General Zorawar Singh acclimatized nearly 5,000 Dogra soldiers for high altitude warfare and began his mission via eastern Kishtwar in Ladakh. General Zorawar Singh truly believed in offensive action with maneuver warfare. With his offensive mindset, he applied the positive forward politics that guided the fate of Jammu and Kashmir under Maharaja Gulab Singh and Ranjit Singh. He not only conquered Ladakh, Gilgit Baltistan, but also conquered 500 miles in western Tibet and reached the city of Toklakam. General Zorawar Singh’s indomitable courage and mountain warfare skills fascinated even the enemy, which made him honored as the general of the enemy army. This incident was unmatched and has not even been repeated once anywhere. In addition, the defeated Tibetan army erected a memorial in honor of the general killed in the battle simultaneously mentioning him with great respect in his history. In Toyo, General Zorawar Singh’s Samadhi is still worshiped today. Colorful flags fly over the rocky mountain of Toyo Hill, where he was cremated by his men. It is unfortunate that this bravest of the brave generals who was also known as Napoleon of India is a forgotten military hero.
The respect, honor and recognition that this great warrior deserved was not bestowed upon him in Jammu and Kashmir, even after seven decades of independence, leaving aside even the other Dogra warriors who sacrificed their lives for the homeland remained unsung heroes. The younger Dogra generations do not even know their names. On the contrary, the Israeli government and its people bestowed greater honor on Indian soldiers of three Indian cavalry regiments Mysore, Hyderabad, Jodhpur Lancers, who fought in World War I as part of the 15th Imperial Service Brigade of the British Indian Army in the Battle of Haifa, a coastal city in northern Israel. The bravery and indomitable courage displayed by Major Dalpat Singh, Captain Aman Singh Bhadur and Dafedar, Joor Singh on the battlefield not only liberated the city of Haifa from the Ottoman Empire, but also changed the dynamics of the First World War. During the celebration of the century of this event in 2018, the mayor of Haifa Yona Yahav told the rally gathered to pay tribute to the fallen Indian soldiers that “Major Singh and the daring Indian soldiers are very dear to us”. As a sign of respect and honor, they also included the Battle of Haifa and the role of Indian soldiers in liberating Haifa from the Ottoman Empire in their children’s primary education curriculum.
But the relevant question that remains to be answered is: Did all these Dogra warriors get the place and honor they deserve in Jammu and Kashmir, even after seven decades of independence? The author leaves at this stage the reflection and introspection of each Dogra of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. This year the nation celebrates the 75th anniversary of India’s independence as Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav. Numerous events are held at the state and national levels throughout the year. Therefore, it is high time for the governments of UT and Center to examine the grave injustice inflicted on the valor of Dogra warriors, including General Zorawar Singh, Maharaja Gulab Singh and many other unsung Dogra heroes, and take the appropriate measures to revive the lost legacy of the Dogra value.
To begin with, the following steps are necessary: First, a war memorial must be erected in honor of these unsung Dogra heroes, either in Jammu, Akhnoor, or Reasi. Also recognize the accomplishments of all Dogra warriors. Make documentary films on General Zorawar Singh and Maharaja Gulab Singh highlighting their achievements for the knowledge and awareness of the younger generations not only in the Union Territories of Jammu-Kashmir and Ladakh, but also for the whole nation. Secondly, the history of the Dogra warriors and their value should be included in the curriculum of schools at primary level. This will certainly inspire the future generation of Dogras. Third, the most important is that the Dogri script (Dogri Akkhar) be introduced in all schools from class I for the inculcation of Dogra. pride among children. Fourth, as a tribute to the bravest of brave General Zorawar Singh (Napoleon of India), Jammu air port is to be named after General Zorawar Singh. Finally, as a sign of respect for these little-known Dogra warriors, the function will be organized each year by the UT government with the participation of the people.